This is a list of answers to home networking FAQ’s (frequently asked questions). Below, I’ve attempted to summarize questions visitors often ask. I’ve recorded the question and answers as best I could. I occasionally paraphrased. Some answers are a bit wordy… sorry.


Q) What is computer networking?

A) At it’s simplest form, computer networking is simply linking two or more computers together on a shared communication line. There are a number of technologies for accomplishing this, including serial ports, USB (which is simply another type of serial port), parallel ports (uncommon these days), token ring (now uncommon), etc. The most common way to connect together computers is via the use of cat5, cat5e, or cat6 ethernet cable. These are standardized cables, and the signals inserted onto them are also standarized to ease connecting one define to another.

Q) What is home networking?

A) It’s really poor English for “a computer network located within your home.” We are fortunate to live in a period during which a rich collection of information technologies are able to exist within personal homes, thus opening up a vast array of possibilities for use.

Q) Can I share files?

A) Yes. File sharing allows users to access files located on other computers. This is a powerful capability because it allows you to centralize files, access them from a variety of different computers but not have to carry a disk or USB key from point to point.

Q) Can I share printers?

A) Yes. This is a very common desire. There are several ways to accomplish this, all very easy to configure.

Q) Is a home network difficult to setup?

A) The real answer is “it depends.” There *are* very simple ways to setup home networking to support just file and print sharing. Adding features beyond that adds complexity. Happily, systems allow you to kind of sneak up on that complexity, adding it only after you’ve reached a certain comfort level.

Q) Does it take a lot of time to manage a home network?

A) See the answer above.


Q) How far apart can the computers be, from each other?

A) The distance between points on a wired network is limited to 300 feet. There are other factors that may limit this, though. Wireless networking is also available and the distance is somewhat less than 300 but may be able to be extended using signal repeaters, etc.

Q) Do I have to install special wiring in my house?

A) Perhaps. As mentioned the most common type of home networking installation will include a cat5/5e/6 ethernet wire. These wires are very easily installed during construction. They can also be routed in old houses, with more difficulty. There are also other types of products, such as power line modems that transfer signals around your home via the use of your existing power cabling. And, certainly, if you want to ignore a wired network you can implement a wireless home network instead!

Q) Can I use the network to save important files, like my vacation photos?

A) Absolutely!

Q) Is it dangerous to connect my network to the internet?

A) Ah, er, yes it can be.

Q) How do I connect to the internet?

A) You will need to gain internet access from an Internet Service Provider or ISP. There is generally more than one provider in large urban areas, but choices are often limited in rural areas. Your ISP may provide access through “cable” as does TimeWarner with their RoadRunner product, or perhaps your phone company provides internet access through a DSL connection. The satellite network companies and cellular phone companies may also provide access in your area, or you may have a local wireless internet provider… perhaps even your own municipality. In any case, you connect your home network to the internet via the use of a hardware device that includes an “internet gateway” For cable and DSL lines, these devices are referred to as a cable modem, or DSL modem


Q) Can computers on the network run different operating systems?

A) Yes. Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Home Server, Windows Server, Linux, Mac OS, etc. are all able to coexist on a home network. It’s really rather remarkable. You may have to tweak some settings, but if you are running more than one type of system in your home I suspect you are up to the task! If YOU have something you think would be good to share on this FAQ, please let me now by sending me a message.